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A Storm Gathers: The Lightning Experience and the Salesforce of Today and Tomorrow

The Lightning versus Classic debate is growing increasingly one-sided, here’s why.

Salesforce released the Lightning Experience (LEX) in October 2015 as a comprehensive upgrade to their platform’s user interface, Salesforce Classic. Prior to release, Salesforce asserted that the project was intended to reinvent the Salesforce desktop experience. Moving away from the building blocks of the original 1999 design allowed the platform to leverage modern technology and UX/UI principles.

That was just over two years ago and, at the time, there were many justifiable reasons why businesses were hesitant to move over to Lightning. But it’s 2018 now, and Lightning is rapidly pulling ahead.

Less is More with LEX

The Lightning Experience was developed in large part from the framework of the no-frills, clean design of the Salesforce1 Mobile app, so it is no surprise that the look and feel of Lightning is minimalistic. Its success is dependent on simplicity.

“The major benefits of LEX come from shortening the page,” says Hua Ping Tan, Cloud Technologist at Traction. “Condensing it so that users are more inclined to fill in all data.”

While it is better to have more information than less, a larger number of fields doesn’t necessarily translate into more data. Limiting the number of unnecessary and redundant fields declutters the page and provides immediate relief to users who will be more likely to enter data in its entirety if there are fewer fields. LEX’s UI actually reinforces this, providing Salesforce users the most important information first.

“If there is too much information displayed in Lightning, the UI looks clunky. This offers admins incentive to shorten and condense objects,” says Hua Ping.

“Admins benefit from Lightning too,” adds Brittany Neale, another of Traction’s resident Cloud Technologists. “The layout is more intuitive with objects and fields all grouped together in the Setup menu, and admins can easily view changes from the latest releases just by typing “New” in the Setup menu.”

More Voltage for Salesforce

While the Lightning interface itself has lost a bit of weight compared to Classic, Salesforce is bulking up the LEX with powerful features. New Lightning-exclusive additions really highlight the advantages of switching from Classic.

Hua Ping Tan, Cloud Technologist at Traction

“All of the new features coming to Salesforce are coming to Lightning. It’s in LEX that we will continue to see innovation and new functionality that helps improve the platform,” says Hua Ping.

For Brittany, one of the most useful additions is the Lightning Utility Bar – an easy-to-use navigation tool at the bottom of the page.

“The new Lightning Utility Bar allows you to streamline navigation with functions such as Recent Items and custom Lightning Components like Custom Links. The toolbar is straightforward, making it easy to find the link you want – you can then can jump to a specific object or record with little to no scrolling and few clicks,” Brittany says.

Data is a lot more beautiful too. LEX is turning data into slick visuals with dashboards that not only look good, but allow users to drill down and view data from a multitude of angles.

“Dashboards in Lightning are incredibly powerful. You can create custom, interactive dashboards for specific users that actually look great too,” says Brittany. “That’s not something you get with Classic.”

Don’t be Afraid when Lightning Strikes

Salesforce has done a lot of work with Lightning in the past two years and there is no doubt that more businesses are beginning to see value in implementing or migrating to LEX.

“In the early days,” says Hua Ping. “Lightning functionality was pretty limited. But the speed at which it’s improving is very fast, and the ’18 Winter Release has given it a huge boost. Every subsequent release is going to provide tangible changes to the user experience, so while Classic will remain static, Lightning will only get better.”

Brittany’s sentiments are much the same.

Brittany Neale, Cloud Technologist at Traction

“There were some prior issues with caching in Lightning that have been remedied by the latest Winter Release. Lightning seems to be much faster with far fewer errors,” she says. “I’ve also found that people grow used to the Classic UI. It takes some time to adjust fully to Lightning, so we recommend giving users some leeway to flip from Classic to Lightning until they adjust.”

While the stark difference in the feel and functionality of Classic and Lightning necessitates a change management strategy, it can actually provide a peripheral benefit for businesses with poor data that struggle with user adoption.

“Along with implementing best practices in data governance, Lightning can help restore trust for users who have grown frustrated due to a poor data model within Salesforce Classic,” says Brittany, a member of the team that worked on one such project for the Alaska Conservation Foundation. “It feels like a brand new product for them.”

Classic: Gone in a Flash

Salesforce is fully committed to the Lightning Experience and both Brittany and Hua Ping agree that the era of Lightning is coming sooner than later.

“A year ago, whenever we had a new project we would assess the feasibility of doing that project in Classic,” says Brittany. “Eventbrite, Classy – we had to make sure they could work for clients. Now, nearly everything is available in Lightning, so why would you use Classic? Why would you build yourself into a corner?”

Can you feel the storm coming? Embrace Lightning, reach out to us for a free Lightning consultation.

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